RFK Jr. says he supports abortion until birth: “We should leave it to the woman”


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently seemed to suggest that he supports allowing abortion up until the moment of birth, sparking outrage from pro-life groups and concerns about disingenuousness among progressives in light of his previous moderate rhetoric on the issue.

Kennedy addressed his position on abortion during an appearance on “The Sage Steele Show” Wednesday. When asked if he was in favor of “leaving it up to the states” to determine abortion policy, Kennedy replied, “I wouldn't leave it up to the states.”

“What I believe is we should leave it to the woman; we shouldn't have government involved,” he added.

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Steele, a former ESPN television personality with outspoken Christian views, pressed Kennedy to clarify whether he supported abortion at “full expression.” He indicated that he thought the law should allow women to abort their unborn baby “even if it's full term.”

Kennedy's running mate Nicole Shanahan appeared on Steele's show last week, where she discussed her views on abortion and seemed surprised when Steele said he had told her before that he supported abortion until birth.

“My understanding is that he absolutely believes in limits on abortion,” Shanahan said. “We talked about it. I don't know where that came from.”

On the campaign trail last year, Kennedy told a reporter that he believed “the decision to abort a child should be up to the woman during the first three months of life.”

When the reporter followed up and asked Kennedy whether or not he would support a federal 15-week abortion ban, the candidate repeated that he preferred to ban abortions after “three months,” equivalent to 12 weeks' gestation.

In response to a clarification question whether Kennedy opposed “unrestricted access to abortion as many in the Democratic Party” support, the candidate stated that “once a child is viable outside the womb, I think that the state has an interest in protecting that child.” The Kennedy campaign later issued a statement insisting that he “misunderstood a question posed to him by an NBC reporter in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall at the Iowa State Fair.”

“Mr. Kennedy's position on abortion is that it is always a woman's right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion,” the campaign continued.

During the campaign, Kennedy used rhetoric that suggested a more moderate tone in the polarizing subject of abortion. At the beginning of his candidacy, a section of his website dedicated to “reconciliation” said he “has clear positions on most of today's divisive trigger issues like abortion, guns and immigration” while acknowledging that “both sides have legitimate concerns and legitimate moral positions.”

Expressing confidence that “no one is to be pitied,” the website proclaimed that “few enjoy the thought of dead fetuses, nor do they want to force women to have unwanted babies.” The campaign listed abortion as one of several areas where Kennedy would seek “to draw out the broad moral agreements underlying our divisions, model careful listening, and create conditions where each group can hear the stories of the other.”

Kennedy channeled that rhetoric in his interview with Steele, describing “every abortion” as a “tragedy” and adding that “many of them leave permanent trauma on the woman.” At the same time, he asserted, “I don't trust government to have jurisdiction over people's bodies.”

“I think we have to leave it up to the woman, her pastor and … her spiritual advisors or her doctor, whatever,” he asserted.

Kennedy downplayed the idea of ​​late-term abortions.

“I don't think any woman… ever in history said, 'I'm going to give birth, I'm going to get pregnant and carry that baby for eight months, and then I'm going to go.' terminate the pregnancy.' I don't think anyone wants to do that.”

When Steele pushed back and said that late-term abortions have occurred “too many times to count,” the candidate responded, “In almost all of those cases, there are extenuating circumstances.”

More recently, Kennedy unveiled a proposal called “More Choices, More Life,” which he predicts would “dramatically reduce abortion in this country.” Specifically, he calls for a “massive subsidized childcare initiative” and strengthening of “adoption infrastructure” by increasing the child tax credit. He touched on that in his interview with Steele.

Kennedy's comments in his interview with Steele drew swift criticism from pro-life activists. In statement published Thursday, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser claimed that Kennedy “exposed himself as a true extremist.”

“He is no different than Joe Biden or Kamala Harris when it comes to supporting brutal abortions at any time for any reason, even when the babies in the womb feel pain, with zero limits or exceptions,” she said. “Only 10% of voters agree with this radical stance of the Democrats, and the United States is one of only eight countries, including China and Vietnam, that have no federal protections for unborn children at any point in pregnancy.”

“He would use the power of the federal government to eliminate pro-life protections in the states and impose unlimited abortion on demand until 'full term,' as he puts it, all over America,” Dannenfelser added. “That makes him unacceptable to millions of pro-life voters nationwide.”

The progressive advocacy organization MoveOnwho emerged as a staunch opponent of Kennedy's presidential campaign, suggested that the candidate's support for unrestricted access to abortion was disingenuous.

“Within the last year, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supported an abortion ban and other restrictions on reproductive health,” MoveOn Political Action Chief Communications Officer Joel Payne stated. “As recently as last week, his own running mate reaffirmed his anti-abortion views. We're not going to let him swing out of this one.”

According to the RealClearPolitics average from polls conducted between April 12 and May 7 measuring voter intentions in a five-way race between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, Kennedy, progressive independent candidate Cornel West and possible Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Kennedy captures 10.8% support among the American public. While he remains far behind Trump's 41.5% and Biden's 38.8%, Kennedy polls ahead of West's 2.0% and Stein's 1.5%.

Kennedy's performance in the race will depend on his level of electoral access.

As of Friday, Kennedy secured ballot access 13 states which have a combined 147 electoral votes in the Electoral College: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.

So far, Kennedy winning the states where he currently has electoral access would leave the candidate short of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The campaign is currently seeking to get on the ballot in all 50 states.

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